Tuesday, April 12, 2016

THE NAMELESS CITY by Faith Erin Hicks

Maybe it's because I'm a sucker for underdog stories. Or because I'm a sucker for stories with strong female characters (though the main character is a dude). Or because I really dig stories set in China. Or because I really like stories involving the martial arts.

Regardless, this story has it all. And then some. And I find myself wanting to rave about it, as I've wanted to do from the moment it arrived in my house in January, along with a note saying "please hold your review until April". AGONY!!!

The Nameless City is at least partially about a city in China. The city is located at a key geographical spot, and has been conquered and re-conquered by a variety of tribes, clans, and empires. Each one names the city as it sees fit, but the people who are native to the city, who have lived there for ages, consider it the "nameless city", and they themselves are the nameless.

The main character of the book is Kaidu, a child of the Dao tribe who has come to the city to spend time with his father (a general, who loves the city and has the slightly offbeat idea that the city residents should have some say in their governance) and to train to be a soldier. He has left his mother back home in their village, where she is the tribal leader. Kaidu is naturally fast, but otherwise needs training. Here he is, running after the other important character in the book, a girl called Rat:

The book manages to discuss colonialism/post-colonialism, prejudice and bias/racism, gender expectations, issues of social class and poverty and education, and more, all while not actually discussing ANY of those things, but instead telling a riveting, rip-snorting story involving unlikely friendships that manage to save the day in more than one way,

Seriously, even after saying all that, I worry that I haven't conveyed the half of what this graphic novel touches on. You should probably read it for yourself.

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